Sunday, May 6, 2007

Emerson's speech to the Scholars

I am finally free to start posting again.It is ages since I had to stop because of travelling and working .

Thank you to those who have emailed me.
I have just stumbled again on Emerson's speech to the Scholars which he made in 1837.Every time I read it I am inspired. It is even more appropriate now I imagine where people forget that vocation is much more than just work.....

"They did not yet see, and thousands of young men as hopeful now crowding to the barriers for the career do not yet see, that if the single man plant himself indomitably on his instincts, and there abide, the huge world will come round to him. Patience, -patience; with the shades of all the good and great for company; and for solace the perspective of your own infinite life; and for work the study and the communication of principles, the making those instincts prevalent, the conversion of the world."

Spring is here in the UK and it is time to emerge from the winter's reflection and start blooming!!!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Strident Trident Issue

Just when I decide I want to get on with blogging about the Creative writing workshops something more pressing comes up...and the UK goverment's decision to replace Trident is mobilising millions of people who can see the stupidity and danger of the decision.

On 24th February 100,000 people gathered in London to highlight and protest the Blair government's decisions to build a range of new generation of nuclear weapons to replace Trident. Barely a mention was made in the press...surprise surprise!
Only last year, the government promised that there would be a full and open debate on the future of Britain's nuclear weapons. Since then, there has been considerable demand from all points of view for a genuine public and parliamentary debate but the government has done nothing to ensure that this happens.

For more on this follow this link to the CND web page where there is a source of accessible and understandable information

Also of interest is the Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp blog

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Perhaps courtesy means saying goodbye.

Is it rude to continue talking on the phone when you are dealing with a person at a checkout? I don't know if others feel the same way as I do but it sure seems rude to me. This insidious and isolating culture of rudeness is seeping like a virus through the UK. People wander through their days oblivious to the rest of the world they have chosen to live in. Just tonight I stood behind a well-dressed, mature woman at the checkout of the supermarket (I mention well dressed to quieten those voices that will immediately say "scruffy kids have always been the same"). She had gone about the business of throwing things into her basket without taking a breath in her telephone conversation. Her mobile phone appeared to be locked to her ear and as she reached the checkout she pushed the basket in front of the cashier without so much as a nod or acknowledgement of the exchange they were about to have. She didn't even falter in the conversation she was having. The cashier stood there..apparently invisible to her, she was just a counting and payign resources demanding no more attention than a cash machine. Somehow in the storm that was going on in her head she managed to notice the amount on the cash register,she wedged the phone between her neck and shoulder, foraged in her bag, extracted the money and threw it on the counter. She picked up her purchases and went on. There was no thank you. There was no recognition that there was another human being involved in this interaction. She was lost in the parallel universe of telephone gaga land.

How could this have happened so quickly? How could this country have turned into a nation of zombies walking around the streets plugged into headphones not aware of where they are walking or the people they pass?

I pass the topic over to the consiracy theorists because it is definitely an open book.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Are they trying to sneak this "pay as you go" car tax through?

I have spent the last 5 months in the UK and I am now beginning to understand the dilemma faced by those who are trying to live a more environmentally aware life and yet still carry on living and holding down a job.

When I am in Australia I do not drive a car...I refuse to own one and never drive one at all.. In the UK it seems as if that is impossible unless you
1) live in the middle of town, 2)are very wealthy, 3)you work within walking distance or 4)your children don't do any activities. It seems crazy to me that in this small country where it is vitally important that cars are kept to the minimum (for all sorts of reasons) there is an impossible public transport system which is expens
ive, unreliable and understaffed.

When I first arrived people would make jokes about the train system. The jokes centred on not when trains turned up but if they turned up. Now, as a seasoned commuter I am amazed at the absurdity of "public" transport system. I emphasis "public" because it seems to me that it is designed around the needs of the private companies which run this country's railways.

Wherever I travel in the world trains are my "local" and regional mode of transport. I have crossed the US on trains, travelled around Europe and always use the Australian trains. But here, in the UK? It is so expensive that you only travel by public transport if you absolutely have to. And then, if there is more than one person travelling it becomes far too expensive as many overseas visitors can testify. For those unfamiliar with the UK transport system let me give you an example...for one person to take a 50 minute commute from Brighton to London it costs over 3,500 pounds per year..let me put that into US dollars..that is nearly $7000 and remember that is the reduced rate because you have a season ticket. $7000 for under an hours commute and that does not guarantee you a seat. Standing for hours is not unusual. I am constantly hearing stories of people having to stand even on a trip to Cornwall which is about 4 hours I think.

Lets compare that to what people pay say in California, a comparable commute costs 10 pounds a day..and that does not include reductions for a yearly ticket. What about Australia? For a 2 hour commute (on a fast train) the yearly ticket is under $AU1500 that is equivalent to 600 pounds. The day ticket (the most expensive) is about 9 pounds for a 2hour return trip compared to 20 pounds for a one hour trip. Are you getting the picture? How can this be? With a country, such as Australia, where there are limited numbers of commuters to support a public transport system it is still less than a fifth of the price of the UK and yet the wages are comparable? Perhaps the money that should be going on supporting life in the UK is going somewhere else? For example:..........

......according to the IRAQ analysis website
the UK is spending at least 4.4billion pounds on IRAQ. I cant help but think that 4.4 billion pounds is a lot of public transport in a small country like this!

They can't rob the coffers of the other portfolios...the health service is falling to pieces, the schools are increasingly underfunded and the money has to come from somewhere. Now the government is easing legislation through hidden behind the topical reason that it is addressing global warming...

Don't get me wrong..I am not a supporter of the car or the plane but in the UK without access to this means of transport many people of medium to low income are stuck.

For those in the UK read this is very important whether or not you agree with the petition you need to know this legislation is proposed and to think about where you stand on it. You might want to fill in the petition...I received this email this afternoon and I cant help but feel that there are other ways of addressing global doing something about industry, perhaps getting heavy lorries off the road ...or heaven forbid...maybe supporting a decent, reliable and affordable public transport system.

"There are only 15 days left to register your objection to the 'Pay as you go' road tax - which closes to petitions on the 20th February 2007.

The petition is on the 10 Downing St website but they didn't tell anybody about it. Therefore at this time only 671,354 people have signed it so far and 750,000 signatures are required to stop them introducing it.

Once you've given your details (you don't have to give your full address, just house number and postcode will do), they will send you an email with a link in it. Once you click on that link, you'll have signed the petition.

Democracy in action?

The government's proposal to introduce road pricing will mean you having to purchase a tracking device for your car and paying a monthly bill to use it. The tracking device will cost about £200 and in a recent study by the BBC, the lowest monthly bill was £28 for a rural florist and £194 for a delivery driver. A non working mother who used the car to take the kids to school paid £86 in one month.

On top of this massive increase in tax, you will be tracked. Somebody will know where you are at all times. They will also know how fast you have been going, so even if you accidentally creep over a speed limit in time you can probably expect a Notice of Intended Prosecution with your monthly bill.

Make your feelings known by signing the petition below which is located on the government website

Friday, January 26, 2007

Something a little more serious....a lot more serious

David Hicks still remains in Guantanamo. The Australian government have down nothing to help him. They have colluded by their silence. Please sign the petition to try to bring each of these illegally held prisoners a little closer to some form of justice. This situation is apalling.

as Molly Ivins wrote .."What happened to the nation that never tortured? The nation that wasn't supposed to start wars of choice? The nation that respected human rights and life? A nation that from the beginning was against tyranny? Where have we gone? How did we let these people take us there? How did we let them fool us?For more of Molly's posting follow this link "
This is the question we should be asking now? How did we let this happen to us?

It is the same question we must ask in Australia and the UK.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Pass the sugar Tony.....

Last night in Britain 8 million tuned in to vote a housemate out of a tv show called Big Brother. That's 8 million. 8 million people who can be manipulated into paying a premium rate phone call to vote for someone they have never met and who will almost certianly have no direct impact on their lives.

In the UK and the States the turnout rates for elections which determine those people who are to represent us across all tiers of government are depressingly low. It is a truism that people will not turn out to elect that person who will make crucial decisions about their lives and yet an episode of a banal tv program will engage them. As Rolf Harris sings...."oooh it makes me wonder". .......if only we could tap that thinking and turn it to a more "productive" use.

As newspaper after newspaper headlined Big Brother stories and every TV channel (free to air and paid)had BB story as breaking news I began day dreaming.... what if we put all the politicians in a Big Brother House and observed them 24/7 going about their day, discussing real things and behaving like real people? They would have no hiding furtive conversations that weren't observed ...what then? What if we managed to see, for just a month perhaps, the real people behind the spin living under Big Brother rules? Allow yourself to imagine for just a few seconds.....Tony Blair sharing his muesli with David Cameron whilst they decided how to spend the weekly food budget for the house. Imagine George Bush, Hilary Clinton and Rumsfeld coming to an agreement about what time the light was to be turned out in the bedroom.....(oops...take back that thought!) What if we saw them the way we saw George Galloway in 2006? This is the same George Galloway who was heavily criticised for appearing on the show, the same George who made such a memorable, erudite and formidable presention to the US senate (for transcript: The same George Galloway who never wastes a publicity moment, shouting to the BB audience "stop the war" as he entered the house. When challenged for appearing on BB George said,"I believe that politicians should use every opportunity to communicate with people," he said in a statement. "I'm a great believer in the democratic process. Big Brother is watched by millions." He is correct, Big Brother IS watched by millions - more accurately near 8 million. I am sure there are a lot of people in that 8 million who haven't bothered to vote because politicians are so removed from their lives...this might just start them voting.

This way we would not only have a glimpse of who we are electing but maybe it might get those couch potatoes who can't be bothered to cast a vote in the elections to actually participate in the government of their own country, Big Brother style. (Back to the chorus again Rolf.."oooh it makes me wonder')

Then again, would I want the same people who would bother to vote for such a mind numbing show as Big Brother, to vote for our government? Yes I would. They are the people who live in this country - who are affected by the decisions and besides that ....Oh, who knows, the other lot didnt get it so right so maybe a change of tactics might just be the answer.

George Galloway: